In an interview with state television on Monday, Iranian regime intelligence minister Mahmoud Alavi acknowledged that the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) is behind a long list of TV series and films created to defame the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).
“Given my experience in the ministry, we entered activities related to creating films and series to educate the public, protect the public against espionage, and achieve intelligence goals,” Alavi said. “The movies Rubah (The Fox), Majerayeh Nimrouz (The Nimrouz Affair), Cyanur (Cyanide), Emkan-e Mina, Ruz-e Sefr (Day Zero), Shabi ke Mah Kamel Shod (The Night of the Full Moon), and the TV series Puzzle, The Dream that was Interpreted in Reverse, Saregh-e Ruh (The Soul Thief), and Khaneyeh Amn (Safehouse) were the result of this collaboration with our dear friends.”
The productions mentioned by Alavi are mostly films and series created with the aim of demonizing the MEK. While in most cases, the directors claim that these were movies created with a commercial budget and based on the trends in the society, Alavi’s latest comments show how deeply the regime controls Iran’s entertainment industry and how it uses it to pursue its political goals.
This is the latest confession by a top Iranian official pertaining that the regime spends huge sums on its demonization campaign against the MEK. It also betrays the regime’s fear of the growing influence of the MEK inside the country.
Movies and TV series are just a small part of the regime’s propaganda efforts against the MEK. In tandem, the regime has created a network of publications, websites, and books that regularly rehash the regime’s lies against the Iranian opposition and try to push the narrative that the MEK is worse than the mullahs’ regime. These materials are widely publicized in state TV and state-run newspapers and websites.
Meanwhile, the regime is also deeply involved in an international smear campaign MEK, mainly through its ties to foreign media outlets and reporters. In some cases, the regime pays considerable to the reporting of mainstream news outlets in its favor and specifically against the Iranian Resistance. In recent years, the regime has taken advantage of media outlets such as The New York Times, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, BBC, and UK Channel 4 TV to air reports against MEK members.
In many cases, the regime poses its own agents as reporters and pundits and infiltrates them into news outlets, publications, and think tanks to push forward the regime’s rhetoric.
In 2017, former Intelligence Minister Ali Fallahian admitted in a television interview: “To gather information, the Ministry of Intelligence needs a cover, whether inside or outside the country. We do not send an intelligence officer to Germany or the United States to say that I am from the Ministry of Intelligence. A business or journalism cover is needed.”
In 2018, Twitter released one million and one hundred thousand tweets posted by accounts originating from Iran. According to the report, the accounts posed “as foreign journalists and concerned U.S. citizens” in their attempt to push the regime’s political messages on the social media.
In January 2021, U.S. authorities arrested Kaveh Afrasiabi, a so-called Iran expert who was on the Iranian regime’s payroll. For over a decade, Afrasiabi pitched himself to Congress, journalists, and the American public as a neutral and objective expert on Iran. “However, all the while, Afrasiabi was actually a secret employee of the Government of Iran and the Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations (IMUN) who was being paid to spread their propaganda,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said in a statement.